Through the night of doubt and sorrow,
onward goes the pilgrim band,
singing songs of expectation,
marching to the promised land.
Clear before us through the darkness
gleams and burns the guiding light;
pilgrim clasps the hand of pilgrim
stepping fearless through the night.
One the light of God's own presence
on the ransomed people shed,
chasing far the gloom and terror,
bright'ning all the path we tread.
One the object of our journey,
one the faith which never tires,
one the earnest looking forward,
one the hope our God inspires.
One the strain that lips of thousands
lift as from the heart of one;
one the conflict, one the peril,
one the march in God begun.
One the gladness of rejoicing
on the far eternal shore,
where the one almighty Father
reigns in love forevermore.
Onward, therefore, sisters, brothers;
onward, with the cross our aid.
Bear its shame, and fight its battle
till we rest beneath its shade.
Soon shall come the great awak'ning;
soon the rending of the tomb!
Then the scatt'ring of all shadows,
and the end of toil and gloom.
This hymn is not immediately inviting. It appears gloomy,
speaking of a night of dark and sorrow. But before we
dismiss it, a closer look reveals that it speaks of places
and experiences where most people live. Our days are
filled with trouble, trials, uncertainty and joys. So the
hymn writer fittingly reminds us that the journey of faith
brings its own share of doubt that God will deliver on
God's promises. Uncertainty about God's word to us and
God's presence with us is real. In the face of doubt, the
writer calls every pilgrim to march on fearlessly in faith,
looking ahead in hope for God's guiding light. The journey
is not private, but undertaken in community; each step is
taken holding the hand of another sojourner.